Openly lesbian Annise Parker is running for mayor of Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in the United States. Portland is currently the largest U.S. city to be led by an openly gay mayor, Sam Adams.

Should Parker ascend to the mayor's office, the trip wouldn't take long. The fifty-three-year-old currently serves as the city's second most powerful elected official: city controller.

“This is my city, my home,” Parker told gay weekly about why she aspires to become mayor.

“I love Houston and I think it's a great city and a great place to live,” she added.

Parker's political resume includes a lengthy section on gay and lesbian activism. She helped organize Houston's early gay pride parades, served as president of the city's GLBT Political Caucus, and acted as a liaison between the gay community and the police.

“[I] spent 10 years as the most visible lesbian activist in Houston – in Texas – and I spent 10 years very active in civic clubs and on quality-of-life issues in Houston,” Parker said. “At some point, I realized that I would get more accomplished from the inside than the outside.”

It was heartbreak for Parker in 1991 when voters rejected her first bid for a seat on the city council and a second 1995 bid. But Parker made history in 1997 as Houston's first openly gay elected official. She served three terms as councilwoman, then moved on to city controller in 2003.

“Houstonians know Annise Parker and her commitment to the city and good government – so much so that they've already elected her citywide six times,” Denis Dison, vice president of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that promotes openly gay elected officials, told

“She's the most experienced, most well-known candidate in the race, but the anti-gay far right knows this too, so we fully expect them to use her sexual orientation to divide and distract the voters. We're preparing for that.”

Previous to holding elected office, Parker worked in the oil and gas industry and co-owned a bookstore. Along with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, the couple is raising two adopted daughters and has also raised a foster son, who is now 32.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has endorsed Parker's candidacy for mayor. So has the historic and powerful Houston GLBT Political Caucus she once headed.

Parker's official candidacy begins Thursday with a rally in front of City Hall at 11:45AM.